‘Gainful employment’ rules are ‘awful’

 New “gainful employment” rules for student loans are “awful,” ”unfair and discriminatory,” writes Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.  The regulations apply to vocational programs at career colleges (primarily for-profit) and community colleges. If the goal is to stop wasting government money,”why not scrutinize students majoring in, for example, sociology, from Wayne State University?” he asks.

CCs host ‘corporate colleges’

Employer-funded “corporate colleges” provide job skills for workers and revenue for community colleges.

Community colleges are working more closely with employers on job training.

Algebra II or welding?

 States are dropping college-prep-for-all requirements  in a school standards rebellion, writes Stephanie Simon on Politico

Florida students no longer need chemistry, physics or Algebra II to graduate from high school. Texas just scrapped its Algebra II requirement. And Washington state has dropped its foreign language mandate.

. . . They’re letting teens study welding instead of Spanish, take greenhouse management in place of physics and learn car repair instead of muddling over imaginary numbers.

The college-for-all idea is elitist, say career-tech proponents. With rising college debt and more film studies graduates working as bartenders, there’s growing interest in “middle skill” technical jobs. 

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been talking up vocational education recently, but they want all students to have college-level skills, writes Simon. “Especially worrisome” is “the risk that low-income and minority students, as well as children with disabilities, could be pushed into the vocational tracks.”

New Mexico state Rep. Mimi Stewart, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to drop the Algebra II graduation requirement. “We are supposed to be doing college and career readiness, not college and college readiness,” Stewart said.

Indiana State Rep. Wendy McNamara, a Republican, wants to design a vocational diploma with input from local employers.

College prep has crowded out vocational options, argue The Jobs for Texas Coalition. “For 20 years, we’ve been ratcheting up the rigor required to get out of high school, and we started to see unintended consequences,” said Mike Meroney, a spokesman for the coalition.

Letting kids opt out of college prep doesn’t mean they’ll spend a lifetime flipping burgers, Meroney said. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists two dozen fast-growing occupations that don’t require higher education and pay $35,000 to $55,000 a year, including heavy equipment operator and car mechanic. “What is the real purpose of education if not to prepare your students for jobs?” Meroney said. “Seriously. That’s what we keep asking.”

While Texas has dropped the Algebra II requirement, Minnesota and Connecticut are phasing in Algebra II mandates, writes Simon. 

New York set new college-ready benchmarks, but won’t expect graduates to be college ready till 2022. Louisiana is aiming for 2025.

Six is the new four

Six should be the new four,” says IBM executive Stanley Litow. At six-year high schools in New York City and Chicago, graduate can finish with a high school diploma, an associate degree and a job offer from IBM.

What works in career-tech ed

In Updating Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century, the Lexington Institute looks at the most effective models.

Career Path High, a blended learning model in Kaysville, Utah offering personalized instruction with externships and onsite CTE training.

Providence, Rhode Island’s Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, through partnership with The Big Picture Company, is a national leader at tracking post-graduation outcomes and utilizing comprehensive data.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn offers a 9th-14th grade high school/associate’s degree program aiming students toward post-graduation job opportunities with starting salaries at $40,000.

The new career-tech models try to keep the door open to college, often giving students the chance to earn community college credits that can be applied to an associate degree or, eventually, to a bachelor’s.

Wal-Mart touts U.S. manufacturing jobs

A new Wal-Mart ad campaign is promoting manufacturing jobs and the company’s foundation is funding “middle skills’ job training at community colleges. “After decades of sending work overseas through ruthless price competition,” Wal-Mart is bringing jobs “back to America, by committing to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars more in U.S.-made goods,” reports the Washington Post.

Alternative diploma limits options

Mississippi students must pass regular courses and four exams to earn a high school diploma. Many special education students settle for an “occupational” diploma. But they may be denied access to academic programs and some job training programs at community colleges.

Regulators threaten coding academies

“Coding academies,” which offer intensive, short-term training in programming skills, don’t rely on state or federal financial aid. Job placement rates are sky-high. But California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education is threatening to shut down coding schools unless they apply for licenses.

BPPE regulations require schools to get curriculum changes by the agency, which may take up to six months. “We change our curriculum every three weeks, and we can’t teach technology that’s six months old,” Shereef Bishay, founder of Dev BootCamp, said.

Will online learning deMOOCratize higher education? Poorly prepared students need face-to-face support to succeed.

Put job training first

For-profit career colleges have much higher graduation rates than community colleges, writes a community college dean who’s worked in both sectors. That’s because for-profit career colleges put job training first.

Tech ed: Where’s the money?

“The goal of an education is not a degree; it’s a career,” said Snap-on CEO Nicholas Pinchuk at the American Association of Community Colleges’ workforce development conference. Business, government and education leaders must invest in technical education and make it a legislative priority, he said.